Pigskin Prognostication 2020
Recapping last week's selections, our college picks went 5-6 overall. Our overall record in the junior circuit is now 23-19-1 for a 55% winning clip.  Still working towards that 60% goal.
In the NFL, we returned to a solid 3-2 performance after our first losing week on the previous column.  Overall in the college and pros, we are 35-30-1 for an overall percentage of  54%.  
However, we must point out that our top plays over the first 5 weeks with one Covid-19 cancellation, stands at a stellar 6-3 which comes in at 67%!  It is always the first game listed in both the College and NFL.  The other games follow in strength rating.  Think of it as a 5,4,3,2 and 1 rating system.
As we mentioned last week, Covid-19 has been a real handicapping challenge this season, but we are going to do our best to get to 60%.
now on with the show...
South Carolina +3 1/2 vs Auburn
Readers of this column know our feelings on the Tigers, as we have stated they are over rated.  After getting dominated by Georgia, last week they were life and death, along with a little help from the referees in beating Arkansas at home.  Getting a second chance at a FG on a very questionable reprieve from the zebras, allowed them to escape with a 2 point win.  On the other hand, South Carolina under coach Muschamp, has been competitive in every game, with a chance to beat Tennessee after playing the Florida Gators tough opening week.  We think the wrong team is favored here and look for the Gamecocks to turn up the annual heat on coach Gus Malzan's future down on the Plains once again!   South Carolina +3 1/2
Louisiana Tech +14 vs Marshall
Thundering Herd backers are a very happy 3-0 to start the year, but maybe more importantly to some, also 3-0 versus the Vegas number.  Coach Holtz and the Bulldogs are in their preferred underdog role standing a robust 17-9 versus the Vegas number when a dog.  We think they find a way to keep this closer than the experts think against the stout Herd defense and offense of coach Doc Holliday.  Louisiana Tech +14
Memphis +3 1/2 vs Central Florida
We like the Knights here after their 21 game home winning streak was snapped by the Golden Hurricane last week (we had Tulsa here). On the flip side, a Tigers team lost outright while favored at SMU, which lost their starting NFL caliber RB and WR in the game (We also had the Pony Express in that one as well).  Something seems off with the Memphis offense this year after head coach Norville left for greener pastures at FSU.  Look for coach Josh Heupel and QB Gabriel to crank their high powered offense up another notch and make it 14 straight wins over the Tigers in a real track meet!  Central Florida -3 1/2
MTSU -6 vs North Texas
After getting boat raced by Army (no offense to Navy) and Troy in their first two games, the Blue Raiders from Murfreesboro have turned it around on offense.  We like them here against the Mean Green in another high scoring game.  In addition, as good as the North Texas offense has been the past two years, they are still a dismal 3-17 against the Vegas number.  No way can we back that kind of track record against a vastly improved MTSU outfit led by QB O'Hara and under rated coach Stockstill.  MTSU -6
UTSA +8 vs Army
The Roadrunners took a major step up in class and ALTITUDE when they battled the BYU Cougars at Lavelle Edwards Stadium in Provo Utah last Saturday to the bitter end.  Only losing by a respectable 7 points, with their 3rd string QB no less!  Now, the well oiled Black Knights of the Hudson's formidable option game comes rolling into San Antonio.  The Roadrunners are 3-0 this year against the Vegas number this year when underdogs, and we think they can keep it close again here after watching their performance in Provo last week against the Cougars.  Army's starting QB Anderson is a game time decision, and even if he does answer the opening bell, perhaps there's some rust involved.  We like the Roadrunners to keep it closer than the experts think against the Cadets playing at home in San Antonio. In our lowest rated college play it's Beep Beep UTSA +8    
and for those liking lots of action...
Honorable mention...  Houston +5 1/2 (Friday), Alabama -4, Tennessee -5 1/2, Boston College +12, Troy -27 1/2
Minnesota - 3 1/2 vs Atlanta 
What can you say about the Falcons?  Winless this year and coming off the firing of their head coach and GM.  We predicted Houston would get the one game bounce after doing the same against Jacksonville last week, but no such reoccurrence this week!  On the flip side, there is plenty to say about a Vikings crew that could be 3-2 with any luck at all.  This same Vikings team has battled undefeated Tennessee and Seattle into the last minute before losing heartbreakers.  No ackey breaky hearts this week.  No Dalvin Cook, no worries as his capable replacement, Tim Mattison and the Vikings take care of business.  Minnesota -3 1/2 
Jacksonville +3 1/2 vs Detroit
In ugly dog pick number 4 on the year, we like QB Gardner Minshew, the Florida heat and humidity, along with the shortened training camp to eventually wear down the Dome playing Lions.  The Jaguars have put plenty of points on the board this year with the exception of the rain soaked Miami game.  Detroit on the other hand, always gets off to a good start, but once the first 10-15 scripted plays are utilized early, they become pretty stodgy on offense.  Look for Minshew Mania and the Jags to have plenty of back door capability here.  Jacksonville +3 1/2
Tennessee - 4 1/2 vs Houston
Big division game here with the Texans and Titans.  Unbeknownst to most NFL fans, these two teams have a real dislike for each other dating back to when deceased owner Bud Adams moved the Oilers out of Houston to Tennessee.  Most games are barnburners and come down to a one possession game.  We like new head coach Romeo Crennel and QB Deshawn Watson to keep this one just as close.  Add to the fact, that the Titans are coming off a Tuesday game against the then undefeated Bills, and they have even less time to prepare for the Texans than during a typical Monday night game.  After not covering against the Vegas number in their first three tilts and blasting the Bills, we look for a regression to the mean in this bitter rivalry for Tennessee.  Houston +4 1/2.
Dallas +2 1/2 vs Arizona
A vastly improved Cardinals team rolls into Dallas after pounding the Jets last week in NYC on the road.  The problem is, that's the ONLY game they have won while being the favorite.  Conversely, America's Team has been favored in EVERY game this year and has YET to cover the Vegas number in any of them.  Now Dak Prescott is lost for the year.  In another shootout, we look for the Cowboys to finally cover a number with a kamikaze effort against the outstanding sophomore year QB Murray and veteran All-World WR Hopkins.  Dallas to Arizona, "We will see your two stars and raise you with a plethora of our own offensive array of talent.  Namely, Elliot, Cooper, Lamb etc... In a wild one, we like Dallas in a RARE underdog at home role to get one for Dak!  Dallas +2 1/2
San Francisco +3 1/2 vs Los Angeles Rams
We have the NFC Super Bowl 49ers in a desperation game against the Rams.  A loss here, and catching the 4-1 L A team will be almost impossible with the murderers row schedule still left to play.  As we predicted here last week in our top play, an injured San Fran team as huge favorites against the Dolphins was a dangerous proposition.  QB Garropolo was obviously not recovered from his high ankle sprain and benched in the first half.  The 49ers are still banged up on D, but do have RB Mostert and TE Kittle back 100%.  As for the Rams, who have they beat?  The answer is the woeful NFC east.  In fact, their best game of the year, they did come back against a clearly disinterested Buffalo team that had built an 18 point 4th quarter lead, but still lost in the end.  Look for an all out effort from a proud 49er team playing at home as an underdog!  In our lowest rated NFL game, we like the 49ers plus the points.  San Francisco +3 1/2  
your fearless forecaster
Donald Michaels

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